The pre-trade meeting that made Erik Karlsson excited about Sharks

The pre-trade meeting that made Erik Karlsson excited about Sharks

SAN JOSE -- Sharks general manager Doug Wilson was in Ottawa last week to meet with defenseman Erik Karlsson before acquiring him in a blockbuster trade with the Senators. It turns out head coach Peter DeBoer met with Karlsson, too. 

DeBoer, alongside Wilson, met the two-time Norris Trophy winner and his wife, Melinda, in Toronto “maybe a day” before the trade was finalized, he told reporters Wednesday after the day’s first practice session of training camp. The purpose, DeBoer said, was to give Karlsson a a sense of what the Sharks had to offer. 

“It’s a huge investment for the organization,” DeBoer said Wednesday morning. “It’s a huge investment from him and his wife to commit to coming out here and playing here. It was a great information session, and I think we all walked out of there really impressed with the player and the person.”

It’s fair to say Karlsson came away impressed, too.

“I think from that day on, both of our views kind of matched up, and I was extremely excited about everything they had to say,” Karlsson told reporters at his introductory press conference Wednesday. “They were great people right from the start.”

“And they’re still great people,” he added with a laugh. 

After the meeting, the Sharks sealed the deal last Thursday. They acquired Karlsson in a deal that sent two roster players, two prospects, two draft picks, and two more conditional picks to the Senators. 

Before the deal was completed, the Senators gave the Sharks permission to meet with Karlsson, Wilson said Wednesday after the press conference. Karlsson and his wife also spoke with Sharks owner Hasso Plattner several times, Wilson first told reporters Saturday. 

Wilson credited Plattner with giving him and the front office the ability to take go after “difference-makers” like Karlsson, and Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares, whom the Sharks met with ahead of the start of free agency. 

Plattner was in the room when San Jose pitched Tavares at the CAA offices in July, and Wilson said previously that the owner keeps up-to-date with just about everything the team does, even down to the recent rookie tournament in Las Vegas. Karlsson said Wednesday that Plattner’s knowledge stood out. 

“Speaking with [Plattner] was very reassuring,” Karlsson said. “He knew what he was talking about, and he was a very well-spoken man. Hopefully, I get to meet him soon.”

Meeting the owner, head coach, and general manager ultimately made Karlsson comfortable with coming to San Jose, and vice versa. Although Wilson said he would not discuss contract negotiations, he reiterated Wednesday he felt “very comfortable” about locking up the 28-year-old to a long-term extension. 

Karlsson declined to discuss a possible extension as well, keeping the focus of his introductory press conference largely on the upcoming season. But, he said he was grateful that Plattner, Wilson, and DeBoer made the trade “as smooth as it possibly could’ve been.”

“[My wife and I] are extremely happy and excited to finally be here, soak it all in, and start our new adventure," Karlsson said.

Erik Karlsson sees move to Sharks as 'extremely motivating challenge'

Erik Karlsson sees move to Sharks as 'extremely motivating challenge'

SAN JOSE -- While the Sharks and their fans waited on pins and needles over the last six days for Erik Karlsson to report to training camp, the defenseman had to tie up some loose ends. There were people to see, luggage to pack, paperwork to fill out, and even a little golf to play.

By the time Karlsson flew to San Jose and landed late Tuesday night, he said he was more than ready. 

“By the time everything got sorted, it felt like it was time to leave and I was extremely excited to finally get here,” Karlsson said Wednesday afternoon in his introductory press conference at the downtown Hilton. 

Last Thursday’s blockbuster trade marked the end of Karlsson’s nine-season stint with the Ottawa Senators, the only team he’s ever played for. In nearly a decade in the Canadian capital, Karlsson grew into one of the game’s best defenseman, winning two Norris Trophies and becoming a perennial All-Star. 

Karlsson was emotional addressing the Ottawa media in the trade’s immediate aftermath, but he officially turned the page on his career Wednesday. The 28-year-old practiced with the Sharks for the first time in the morning, and put on a teal, No. 65 jersey in front of the cameras later that afternoon. 

He told reporters that afternoon that he was looking forward to the opportunity to start fresh.

“I see this as an extremely motivating challenge to grow as a player and as a person,” Karlsson said. “I think, from everything so far, I’m going to have a great opportunity to do that here.”

Karlsson skated alongside defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic in most drills Wednesday morning. He even played with fellow Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns -- and captain Joe Pavelski -- during an extended three-on-three scrimmage at the end of practice, and joked that the experience was “not too shabby.”

[RELATED: Key stats explain Karlsson's dominance]

The Swede, who is entering the final season of a six-year deal and can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, demurred again when asked about the possibility of signing a long-term contract extension to stay in San Jose. He told reporters that he’s not yet looking beyond the upcoming season. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson would not comment on Karlsson extension talks, either.

That shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise. Karlsson just moved to a new team, in a new city, and in a different conference, to boot. He seemed almost relieved to be done with the move, and to be able to play once again.

“That’s the big thing that’s resonated with me,” Wilson said. “He’s not worried about anything else. He just wants to get in and be a good teammate, and get going.” 

The Sharks will play their second preseason game Thursday, but it’s unlikely Karlsson will suit up. That’ll be just his second day with the team, and the coaching staff wants to use that game to evaluate some of the young players still in camp.

San Jose won’t need to rush to integrate a player of Karlsson’s caliber, and he didn’t seem to mind the pace Wednesday. 

“They gave me the space that I needed, and at the same time, they gave me the comfort of letting me know that they were here if I needed anything,” Karlsson said. 

“I think it was a perfect first day, and I’m excited to get up tomorrow and go back to the rink.”

Erik Karlsson skates with his new Sharks teammates for the first time

Erik Karlsson skates with his new Sharks teammates for the first time

SAN JOSE -- Erik Karlsson wasn't the first player on the ice at Sharks training camp Wednesday morning. That’s understandable, since the Swedish defenseman arrived in the Bay Area around 10 p.m. Tuesday, and practiced with his new club for the first time around 12 hours later. 

How did Karlsson’s new teammates welcome him to the locker room?

“I said hi to him,” Sharks defenseman Brent Burns cracked to reporters Wednesday. “There were no balloons, or cakes or anything. I think we know kind of how hard it is for a guy like that, or for anybody.

“You try to make him feel welcome but also give him a break, too, because I think it’s going to be crazy for him.”

It wasn’t always clear when Karlsson would join his new team. The Sharks acquired the 28-year-old in a massive trade with the Ottawa Senators last Thursday, but he still had immigration issues to sort through after moving from a Canadian franchise to an American one. 

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer didn’t expect Karlsson to join the team until the end of the week, and captain Joe Pavelski said the team received word that the defenseman could have joined the team Wednesday, or possibly even later. 

But those concerns went away when the two-time Norris Trophy winner finally stepped on to the ice. 

“I think we’ll keep him,” DeBoer said. “He’s a world-class player. When you add players with skill and speed like that to our group, it energizes them, too. Good players want to play with good players. I thought the energy level of the whole group was up today because of his presence, and he came as advertised.”

Karlsson constantly chatted with his new teammates. Whether stretching, between drills or in the locker room, it was rare to see him alone. Fellow defenseman Justin Braun explained an early transition drill, and assistant coach Rob Zettler skated over to speak with Karlsson during, and after, another one. 

The Sharks who didn't skate in Tuesday night’s preseason game practiced with Karlsson on Wednesday morning, while those who did skated later on. Marc-Edouard Vlasic did not play in that game, and he skated alongside his new teammate for the majority of the session -- although DeBoer was quick to say afterward that it’s too early to know whether they will end up playing with one another. 

DeBoer gave the fans in attendance a glimpse at another possibility: Burns and Karlsson playing alongside one another in three-on-three overtime. The duo skated with Pavelski during a full-rink scrimmage at the end of practice, and Burns buried Karlsson’s backdoor pass to conclude the session. 

Pavelski said having Karlsson join the Sharks toward the beginning of camp allows the team to enter the season on the same page. 

“It’s great for us,” Pavelski said. “Our group is set, and we get to spend some time in these [preseason] games, then he’s not trying to play catch-up by any means. It’s always nice to get as many pieces as you can together and get an earlier start just so you’re comfortable. 

“When you get here early enough, it’s nice to be able to hit those stages all at once, blend it together and get up to speed.”

It’s not likely that Karlsson will play in Thursday’s preseason game in Anaheim. DeBoer said the Sharks' coaching staff is still focused on evaluating some of the young players in camp, and they’ll map out the remaining four games afterward. 

Karlsson still has details to learn as he gets up to speed and acclimated to his new team. That includes his apparel on the ice, and off of it: Burns noted than in addition to getting used to his new gear, Karlsson came to the rink wearing long pants on a day with temperatures sitting in the 70s.

“That’s probably going to be the last day,” Burns quipped.

Other than that, the Sharks don’t feel like they need to give their newest defenseman too much instruction.

“I think with the type of player he is, he’s just going to find his own way [even] if you told him nothing,” Pavelski said. “He’ll just play hockey, and we’ll give some structure. … With the skill set he has, I believe he’ll adjust pretty quickly.”